reviews

Dredge Runners (Warhammer Crime) by Alec Worley

Write on: Fri, 21 Aug 2020 by  in Gary's Reviews Read 1412

A lighthearted tale of friendship in the grim darkness of the far future.

Alec Worley's Dredge Runners is the first audio drama in Black Library's brand new Warhammer Crime franchise. Set in the crime-ridden city of Varangantua, it follows the odd pair of ex-soldiers, Baggit and Clodde, on a series of heists to escape the slums of the Dredge while dealing with themes of friendship and morality. 

One of the things that makes Baggit and Clodde such an interesting pair is that they are abhumans - mutants granted Imperial citizenship in exchange for military service. For those unfamiliar with the Imperium of Man in the 40k setting, they are extremely xenophobic. Baggit is a ratling and former sniper with an eye for opportunity whereas Clodde is an Ogryn and former shock trooper with a need to do the right thing. Both subvert expectations within the setting, especially Clodde, who seems to have just as much brain as brawn. His philosophical ramblings and constant struggle to keep his violent urges in check provide some of the funniest moments in the story.

'You look confused.'

'I am merely trying to assess the situation, a mental calculation made all the more challenging by my genetic predisposition towards violence, which is urging me to resolve the situation by ripping your arms and legs off.' 

Baggit and Clodde's brotherly bond is Dredge Runner's biggest strength with Worley successfully capturing the essence of true friendship. They are loyal to each other, willing to call each other out on their mistakes, empathetic to what makes the other tick and have some bloody good banter. At the same time, their friendship is tested by the morality of their actions. Baggit is willing to do anything in order to give both of them a better life while Clodde acts as their moral compass. They work so well as a pair and I found myself deeply invested in their story.

'You want to stay here, do ya? Stay wallowing in the gutter, hustling for scraps the rest of your life? Getting out of trouble by getting into more trouble? That's not life, Clodde. It's survival. We got out of the guard to escape all that didn't we? So that we could live our own lives, make something of ourselves. Be something.'

'We are something.'

As funny as Dredge Runners is, it still provides some interesting comments on serious topics. Varangantua is plagued by corruption, treachery, slavery and political hypocrisy, each an obstacle that Baggit and Clodde must overcome in order to escape the Dredge to a better life. Throughout the audio drama, there are a series of broadcasts by Varangantua's government that not only respond to Baggit and Clodde's crazy antics but also provide insight into how governments use propaganda to suit their narrative. 

Overall, Dredge Runners is a fun audio drama and great beginning to the new Warhammer Crime range. Clocking in at just over an hour in length, it is perfect for walks, car journeys and bedtime listening. Personally, I wish it were longer as I did not want my time with Baggit and Clodde to end. They are refreshingly lighthearted pair to follow in a franchise known for its hopelessness and despair and I am very hopeful that this won't be the last we hear of them. 

Gary

Gary is a small town Irishman with a love for all things historical and fantastical. He works as an English and History teacher at post-primary where he endeavours to instil and nurture a love for reading and writing in students. Tea is his weakness. Reading is his passion. His one goal in life is to buy a castle when he retires.